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Hiberno-English vocabulary

Phrases
All done and dusted = satisfactorily completed. E.g.‘When the paperwork was all
done and dusted I went home.’
At the races = unsuccessful, uncompetitive. E.g. ‘The Irish are not at the races at all
when it comes to providing job opportunities for the long term unemployed.’
Beyond the beyonds = beyond belief. E.g. ‘That kind of behaviour is beyond the
beyonds.’
Brown envelope = medium for the passing of bribes to members of planning
authorities, politicians. E.g. ‘The official report revealed there were too many brown
envelopes being given to Irish politicians over recent decades.’
Catch or get your death = To develop a fatal illness or injury through careless
behaviour. E.g. ‘You’d catch your death in this weather.’
How’s she cutting? = How are things going?
In the heel of the hunt = eventually. E.g. ‘We searched all day for the missing keys
but in the heel of the hunt we had to admit defeat.’
Not too bad = in good form/health. E.g. ‘How are you?’ ‘Not too bad.’
Put on the long finger = postpone indefinitely. E.g. ‘I’m so busy that I will have to
put the project on the long finger.’
Put years on = cause distress/tiredness/anxiety. E.g. ‘Trying to teach that class would
put years on anybody.’
Put manners on someone = discipline. E.g. ‘Somebody needs to put manners on that
child before things get worse.’
Put to the pin of one’s collar = be stretched to the limit. E.g. ‘Things are bad enough
but further pay cuts and tax increases will definitely put me to the pin of my collar.’
Chance one’s arm = take a risk. E.g. ‘I’m going to chance my arm and apply for the
job even though I haven’t got all the qualifications required.’
Fit to be tied = very angry. E.g. ‘I was fit to be tied when I discovered I had missed
the course start date.’
Lose the run of oneself = lose control. E.g. ‘I lost the run of myself when I arrived at
the shopping centre and saw this season’s new clothing.’
Behind the door = slow. E.g. ‘She wasn’t behind the door about putting herself
forward for the job.’
On the pig’s back = enjoying good fortune. From the Irish phrase ar mhuin na muice.
E.g. ‘With his pay increase and the new baby, he’s certainly on the pig’s back.’
Celtic Tiger = booming Irish economy. E.g. ‘Ireland had low unemployment figures
during the Celtic Tiger years.’
Soft spot = indulgent attitude/affection. E.g. ‘I have a real soft spot for him, he’s so
good.’
Still an’ all = nevertheless. E.g. ‘Still an’ all it’s not a bad effort.’
Your man = any specific individual. E.g. ‘It was your man over there who started the
rumour.’ ‘It’s your man’s problem.’

Words/verbs
Altogether = completely. E.g. ‘She was generous altogether.’
Banjax = to ruin, destroy. E.g. ‘That old car is completely banjaxed now.’
Blackguard = rogue, scoundrel. E.g. ‘That blackguard caused some trouble last
night.’
Blow-in = recent arrival in a place (few days – decades), not yet accepted by the
natives as really part of the place. E.g. ‘A lot of blow-ins from Dublin live in the
village.’
Bockety = unsteady, imperfect. ‘That chair has bockety legs.’
Jaded = physically and /or emotionally exhausted. E.g. ‘I was jaded after the aerobics
class.’
Bold = mischievous (generally in relation to children/young people). In SE ‘bold’
usually means courageous. E.g. ‘When I was bold I wasn’t allowed out to play.’
Messer = somebody incompetent or irresponsible. E.g. ‘He’s a messer, he wouldn’t
pay me for the job.’
Chancer = a crafty person who will try anything to get an advantage over someone.
E.g. ‘He’s some chancer.’
Clatter = a large amount. E.g. ‘She had a clatter of kids.’
Cod (noun, verb) = to make a joke, to try to make a fool of somebody, lie. E.g. ‘Don’t
try to make a cod of me.’ ‘Are you codding?’
‘Craic’ means high-spirited entertainment. It is a pure English word from the 12th
century. The spelling is false, it should be ‘crack’. It comes from an old English verb
(1000 years ago) ‘to make an explosive noise for entertainment purposes’. The word
began to be used a lot by the Irish.
Creature = Term of affection: a person. E.g. ‘The poor creature couldn’t cope with
the death of her mother.’
Give out (verb)= to complain strongly. E.g. ‘I gave out to the class for not having
their homework done.’
God bless! = greeting on parting. E.g. ‘Goodbye. God bless.’
Mitch (verb) = to play truant from school. E.g. ‘He was caught mitching yesterday by
his teacher.’
Character = individual slightly larger than life with distinctive qualities. E.g. ‘She
was a real character, I’ll never forget her.’
Carry-on = unacceptable behaviour. E.g. ‘The class were carrying-on when I arrived
at the room.’
Comeuppance = just deserts. E.g. ‘She got her comeuppance in the end.’
Dab hand = expert. E.g. ‘He’s a dab hand at woodwork.’
Deadly = brilliant. E.g. ‘The match was deadly.’
Dosser = a lazy person, an idler. E.g. ‘He’s a complete dosser, he does nothing.’
From the French ‘dos’ = back. Dosser means ‘doss back’ or ‘to sleep on your back all
the time’
Dote = a term of affection especially for a baby or young child. ‘She’s such a dote.’
Drownded = Soaking wet from rain. E.g. ‘I came home drownded from the trip.’
Gallivanting = going to lots of places. E.g. ‘He was out gallivanting all night.’
Gas = fun, full of fun. E.g. ‘He’s great gas.’ ‘You’re a gas man.’
Let on = to pretend, reveal. E.g. ‘She’s only letting on that she’s upset.’ ‘I never let
on I knew.’ This verb is not used by the English.
Smithereens = small broken pieces. E.g. ‘The vase was in smithereens/smashed into
smithereens when it fell on the floor.’
Spuds = potatoes. E.g. ‘The spuds are nearly cooked.’
Tap = stroke of work, any work (negative meaning). E.g. ‘She didn’t do a tap of work
all day.’
Black = crowded. E.g. ‘Town was black with people in the days before Christmas.’
Gaff = a house or home. E.g. ‘I was in my gaff when he phoned.’ ‘Free gaff tonight.’
Passremarkable = likely to make critical observations/comments about
somebody/something. E.g. ‘She was very passremarkable about him.’
Yoke = thing, unspecified object. E.g. ‘Give me that yoke.’

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